Eight ways to cope with these uncertain times.
You and I and billions of people are trying to manage life and work and kids in an era none of us anticipated as we brought in the New Year.
As frustrated as you might be in this very moment, you are not alone. There is uncertainty around every corner. Your job may be at risk because of the corona virus. You can’t let off steam by walking through the botanic gardens or taking your kids to the zoo because they’ve been closed indefinitely. Or the way you worship has become a virtual versus in-person experience in the wake of protecting those at risk.
Here we are, you and I. Facing a crisis for which there is no template. No roadmap. Each day you receive information that shapes how you live your life. You’re told to cancel, reschedule, change it up, stay home. Everything seems out of your control.
While you can’t stop the corona virus in its tracks, it doesn’t have to paralyze you. Here are a number of things you can do to cope with the uncertainty.
- Curb Your News Intake
Get your fill and move on. It’s important to stay up to date on the latest developments from local, state and federal officials. Rather than keeping the news on all day and finding yourself totally stressed out, pick three times every day where you will devote a chunk of time to reading/listening/watching your favorite source of news. And then, stop. By taking this step, you give yourself back a teeny bit of control. Instead of letting that news take over your life.
- Wash Your Hands
Seriously, this is the number one thing you can do to keep yourself healthy. I have refilled all of the soap canisters in our home so that there is no threat of running out. And I’ve even brought lotion to the sinks where I wash most frequently so my skin doesn’t dry out. What’s your favorite song to wash your hands to? Make up a playlist and put it on a post-it note. I’ve got several on my list: “I Will Survive,” “Staying Alive,” “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “The Wheels on the Bus.” I just heard someone recite the 23rd Psalm the other day. Whatever it takes – wash and scrub for 20 seconds. Every. Single. Time.
- Avoid Sick People
If a family member is hacking and sneezing, clear a wider than 6-foot berth. Ask them to relocate to an area where they aren’t shedding germs. Offer ample tissues and sanitizer and spray down the area where they are working/sitting when they get up. Never before have I been more alert to wheezing loved ones, or anyone around me who’s wheezing. We are living in a time where, “Oh, it’s allergies,” doesn’t fly anymore. Take your health seriously and protect yourself. Without any apologies.
- Get Your Work Done
Jump on that Zoom call and engage with a new client or your colleagues. Research, interview and write that paper or article. Email or slack your supervisor to make sure you’re all caught up. I’ve had the blessing of working in a home office as I coach clients, write and interview online. Now I’m rescheduling coffees and lunches and moving those engagements to calls or video connections. Expand your virtual world.
- Create New Routines
While so many things feel out of whack, some of your routines might still be in place. Our dogs have no clue anything is altered because their feeding times and walks are the same. Every morning, my husband and I still enjoy our coffee, reading and time of contemplation. Instead of going to the gym I jump rope in the dining room. He puts on his running gear and goes out for a run. To keep our lives sorted through the day, we work in different rooms and use headsets to limit the sound. We do our best to stick to our calendars so that we don’t feel that everything is slipping through our lives. It’s taken us a few days to adapt to our new routines with more than one of us in the house. But we are getting used to it because it’s now a part of our routine.
- Manage Your Down Time
While Netflix is a definite go-to, many of you might want to round out your time differently. Over the weekend, I bought a variety of seeds: lettuce, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc. I’m going to plant them indoors, hoping the 6-8 weeks from seed to seedling will coincide with the period of time I’m working like this. (Fingers crossed!) I’ve also purchased more milk paint to paint five doors in my basement. My husband has two wood working projects and a yard clearing idea. And we’re adding bike riding to our extended lunch breaks, weather permitting. What have you been waiting to add to your life? Schedule time for it!
- Stay Connected with Loved Ones
Whatever you’re calling this season of life for you, it is filled with uncertainty. You can sense the underlying tension in your home, on calls, even when you’re walking the dogs. It’s hard to be forced to reschedule or cancel a planned graduation, trip or event. So call your mom, or your uncle, or your sister or your best friend. Share, commiserate, laugh and cry together. Email those you care about and send them photos of your new work space. Stay present on social media in bursts that fit your life. When you are able to stay connected with those who matter to you, you’re reminded that you are not alone.
- Do Something for Someone Else
No matter what you’re going through, you probably know someone who is having a hard time as well. Maybe even worse. Deliver a bag of groceries. Call a neighbor and offer to go to the store. Write a note of encouragement. Donate to a homeless shelter or food pantry. Take a neighbor’s dog for a walk. When you shift the focus of this ‘new normal’ off yourself, even for a few minutes, you will have a fresh outlook.
There is no template for a time like this. That means anything you do is exactly what needs to be done. And if you’re told to do something more or different, pivot. Since no one knows when this season will end, enjoy what you’re doing, do it well and repeat. Again and again.
How are you coping? I’d love to hear from you!